Moroccan PM in France for Bilateral Talks
Moroccan Prime Minister Abderrahman Yussufi arrived in Paris on Wednesday to begin a series of high-level consultations that will focus on bilateral relations and ways to enhance cooperation between the two countries, reported the official Bahraini news agency GNA.
Yussufi held talks with President Jacques Chirac, said the agency, adding that he would hold talks Thursday with Prime Minister Lionel Jospin.
French foreign ministry spokesman Francois Rivasseau, said that talks would ''provide an opportunity to pursue the ongoing renewal of our bilateral cooperation and broaden political dialogue between our two countries.''
Topics on the agenda on Thursday include education, the institutional environment for economic activity, social development, support for small and medium-sized business and industry, mobilization of non-state actors, and the situation of the Moroccan population in France.
Another main topic to be discussed is the fisheries accord between the African Arab country and the European Union, said the spokesman.
Prior to Yussufi’s arrival in Paris, French Foreign Minister Hubert Vedrine appealed for a balanced fisheries accord between Morocco and the European Union, said AFP.
"France's aim is a balanced accord which respects Morocco's sovereignty over its fishery resources and takes into account both Morocco's legitimate interests and those of EU member states," Vedrine told the Moroccan newspaper Liberation on Wednesday, cited by the agency.
Morocco has refused to agree to a new three-year fisheries deal to allow EU boats to fish in Moroccan waters, and the impasse could damage overall relations with both its closest European neighbor Spain, and the EU as a whole.
Vedrine noted that Morocco preferred fisheries agreements with individual countries, the agency added.
"But it is Europe which is competent in this field, and we would prefer an accord between the EU and Morocco," he told the newspaper, which supports Morocco's ruling Socialist Party.
Spanish Prime Minister Jose Maria Aznar has warned Morocco of damaged relations with both the EU and Spain over a failure to reach a deal.
The previous agreement, which allowed some 400 EU boats, mostly from Spain and Portugal, to fish in Morocco's rich waters in exchange for 125 million euros a year, expired in November 1999.
In negotiations for a new three-year agreement, the EU has offered Morocco US$70 million for the first year, US$60 million for the second and US$40 million for the third.
But Rabat, citing the need to preserve its fish stocks, has asked for 90 million euros for each of the three years – Albawaba.com
© 2001 Al Bawaba (www.albawaba.com)